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Number Crunching the Constructed Matchups

The data has been sitting available for awhile now.  With the sudden and earth shattering announcement of just how soon the $100,000 HEX Invitational is coming, I thought it would be as good a time as any to go over all the results from the FiveShards Sapphire Cup to see how common decks fared against each other to give people an idea of what they might expect when the Invitational Qualifiers and Constructed Daily Events start firing off at a rapid pace.

Overall Performance

First, let’s look at the composition of the 184 decklists that were submitted.  I’ve tried to categorize things neatly (and I’ll talk about what might have been major differences between individual decklists further down), so generalizations were used to try and make data analysis a bit easier on my end.

Archetype# PlayedPercentages of the Field
WS Control2815.22%
Mono Blood2815.22%
BD Midrange2513.59%
BS Control168.70%
RW Ramp168.70%
Mono Ruby115.98%
Coyotle Control (WSD Variants)105.43%
DS Control84.35%
RS Control42.17%
BR Aggro42.17%
DW Midrange42.17%
RS Tetzot31.63%
Mono Wild21.09%
Mono Sapphire21.09%
BW Shinhare21.09%
BS Darkspire21.09%
FiveShard Necrotic21.09%
RW Gas Troll21.09%
BW Midrange21.09%
RS Skarn10.54%
Draw Reggie Please10.54%
BS Vennen10.54%

Tecnophi’s article does a better job at breaking down shard and champion choices. What continues to stand out to me is the complete lack of Mono Sapphire decks, after dominating the end of the pre-Armies of Myth metagame.  What people chose to bring to a relatively undefined meta is interesting to us, but not nearly as important as how those decks did, which we can see in our next table.

ArchetypeMatch WinsMatch LossesMatch Win %
WS Control497340.16%
Mono Blood777052.38%
BD Midrange785757.78%
BS Control583464.04%
RW Ramp564356.57%
Mono Ruby352657.38%
Coyotle Control152735.71%
DS Control172738.64%
RS Control81338.10%
BR Aggro121348.00%
DW Midrange2625.00%
RS Tetzot12666.67%
Mono Wild1516.67%
Mono Sapphire5645.45%
BW Shinhare060.00%
BS Darkspire2625.00%
FiveShard Necrotic6554.55%
RW Gas Troll6650.00%
BW Midrange2340.00%
RS Skarn6275.00%
Draw Reggie Please4450.00%
BS Vennen030.00%

For easier visualization of which decks won the highest percentage of their matches:

ArchetypeMatch Win %
RS Skarn75.00%
RS Tetzot66.67%
BS Control63.04%
BD Midrange57.78%
Mono Ruby57.38%
RW Ramp56.57%
FiveShard Necrotic54.55%
Mono Blood52.38%
RW Gas Troll50.00%
Draw Reggie Please50.00%
BR Aggro48.00%
Mono Sapphire45.45%
WS Control40.16%
BW Midrange40.00%
DS Control38.64%
RS Control38.10%
Coyotle Control35.71%
DW Midrange25.00%
BS Darkspire25.00%
Mono Wild16.67%
BW Shinhare0.00%
BS Vennen0.00%

Small sample size accounts for some of the largest and smallest numbers (RS Skarn had one pilot go 6-2 and RS Tetzot saw Nononsense go 10-1 over the weekend as just one of three pilots). It also gives some insight into decks you might want to focus a bit harder on if they are performing that well.  So, if you were one of the WS Control pilots who helped account for the 40.16% win rate despite being the most popular deck, then taking a look at TeeGeeDee’s Savvas RS Skarn deck, nononsense’s RS Tetzot deck, or LightReaper’s FiveShard Necrotic deck might be worth exploring since all of those rogue decks put up >50% win rates.

Archetype performance

WS Control

ArchetypeMatch WinsMatch LossesMatch Win %
Mono Blood111150.00%
BD Midrange101147.62%
BS Control21313.33%
RW Ramp4930.77%
Mono Ruby3537.50%
Coyotle Control6650.00%
DS Control050.00%
RS Control30100.00%
BR Aggro2166.67%
DW Midrange20100.00%

Oof, those BS and DS Control matchups were killers for WS.  Wild doesn’t provide near the spot removal the Blood and Diamond have access to, so Vampire Kings from BS and Angel of Dawns from DS were always going to be much harder to deal with when both decks have the same Sapphire support structure around them.  What is most telling though is that all of WS’s good matchups are Tier 2 decks at best, as flipping coins with Mono Blood was the best it could expect against a deck piloted by more than 5 players.  There is still merit in WS decks, but don’t expect to see them in nearly the same quantities going forward.

Mono Blood

ArchetypeMatch WinsMatch LossesMatch Win %
WS Control111150.00%
BD Midrange131644.83%
BS Control5741.67%
RW Ramp111052.38%
Mono Ruby8561.54%
Coyotle Control2250.00%
DS Control3442.85%
RS Control4266.67%
BR Aggro2166.67%
DW Midrange10100.00%

Like WS, Mono Blood preyed upon the second tier of decks.  It also was highly effective against Mono Ruby and decent against the Wild decks.  Where it really faltered was against the other Blood decks.  While Mono Blood’s argument to exist is that it trades the power of going into a second shard for the consistency of hitting your thresholds, the matchup percentages may be telling us that power is more important in a Blood-dominated metagame…

BD Midrange

ArchetypeMatch WinsMatch LossesMatch Win %
WS Control111052.38%
Mono Blood161355.17%
BS Control121054.55%
RW Ramp6940.00%
Mono Ruby6554.55%
Coyotle Control5271.43%
DS Control70100.00%
RS Control
BR Aggro4180.00%
DW Midrange

RW Ramp and Robots were really the only matchup BD was truly scared of from the major archetypes.  Going from data off the previous cup series, Robots was typically a dog to BD so either there have been enough shifts in Armies of Myth that this is no longer true or we have just small sample size working against us.  Having never really gone away since Angel of Dawn and Vampire King first laid eyes on one another, nothing is suggesting that BD is going to stop being a presence anytime soon.

BS Control

ArchetypeMatch WinsMatch LossesMatch Win %
WS Control13286.67%
Mono Blood7558.33%
BD Midrange101245.45%
RW Ramp5550.00%
Mono Ruby040.00%
Coyotle Control3260.00%
DS Control10100.00%
RS Control1150.00%
BR Aggro2166.67%
DW Midrange20100.00%

BS Control had the highest total win % of any of the major archetypes.  That being said, its breakdown is extremely interesting to look over.  It MAULED Robots 6-0 but got smoked by Mono Ruby 0-4—even though both are premier aggro decks in the format. It is telling that the reach of Mono Ruby is a huge difference maker in match-ups like this one.  The other standout was its decimation of WS Control—13-2 isn’t just lucky results.  Soundly trumping the most popular deck in the tournament is one reason why BS was the winningest deck despite not putting anyone in the top eight.

RW Ramp

ArchetypeMatch WinsMatch LossesMatch Win %
WS Control9469.23%
Mono Blood101147.62%
BD Midrange9660.00%
BS Control5540.00%
Mono Ruby1712.50%
Coyotle Control2166.67%
DS Control5183.33%
RS Control2250.00%
BR Aggro020.00%
DW Midrange

Even without Majesty, Cressida gives the deck a big enough boost to keep up with pretty much anything.  Well, anything but Mono Ruby that is, which was evident in the top eight as well when Mind took down Fierock’s solid build soundly.  This is also an interesting point of view for the Mono-Blood versus BD debate, as the consistency of Mono Blood was much more of a problem than the added power from Diamond in BD.  Considering that Inquisition is a key card in the matchup while Angel of Dawn is often a Crocosaur liability, there are at least a few reasons why this might be the case.  Either way, you can see why even if Tusker Rush keeps RW out of the Gauntlets these days you should expect to see some of it in Dailies and the Invitational Qualifiers.

Mono Ruby

ArchetypeMatch WinsMatch LossesMatch Win %
WS Control5362.50%
Mono Blood5838.46%
BD Midrange5645.45%
BS Control40100.00%
RW Ramp7187.50%
Coyotle Control1150.00%
DS Control1150.00%
RS Control10100.00%
BR Aggro10100.00%
DW Midrange

We are starting to get to the point in the archetypes where we don’t have much solid data on match-ups against the second tier of decks played, but an 0-3 mark against Robots is likely at least an indicator of how that matchup likely looks.  Mono Ruby might be the most matchup dependant of the decks we have listed thus far, since while it was busy stomping BS, WS, and RW it really wanted to dodge the other Blood decks.  As the outright winner of the Sapphire Cup and a Gauntlet mainstay, Tusker Rush has a target painted on its back that is likely to shape the meta in the coming weeks.  Even still, with a number of good matchups against strong decks, don’t ignore Mono Ruby or handwave that just a few health gain cards will be good enough…

Coyotle Control

ArchetypeMatch WinsMatch LossesMatch Win %
WS Control6650.00%
Mono Blood2340.00%
BD Midrange2528.57%
BS Control2340.00%
RW Ramp1233.33%
Mono Ruby1150.00%
DS Control10100.00%
RS Control010.00%
BR Aggro020.00%
DW Midrange

Part of the reason of splitting up WS Control and Coyotle Control (aka, going Wild, Sapphire, and Diamond) was to see what adding the extra threshold type to the deck did to its matchups.  The answer—well it took a game off DS Control.  Pretty much across the board, where WS had trouble the tri-shard combination was finding even more difficulty.  I wouldn’t say that this means that there isn’t a WSD build out there that can work, but it does mean none of the ones currently going around are much to fear.

DS Control

ArchetypeMatch WinsMatch LossesMatch Win %
WS Control50100.00%
Mono Blood4357.14%
BD Midrange070.00%
BS Control010.00%
RW Ramp1516.67%
Mono Ruby1150.00%
Coyotle Control010.00%
RS Control
BR Aggro030.00%
DW Midrange2100.00%

Speaking of decks with strange matchup distributions, life is really feast or famine for the DS Control decks.  Unfortunately for DS, it was mostly famine against the top performing decks that populated the upper tables late in the tournament.


ArchetypeMatch WinsMatch LossesMatch Win %
WS Control2433.33%
Mono Blood2528.57%
BD Midrange2166.67%
BS Control060.00%
RW Ramp1420.00%
Mono Ruby30100.00%
Coyotle Control
DS Control40100.00%
RS Control10100.00%
BR Aggro10100.00%
DW Midrange

During the Shattered Destiny metagame, Robot decks were considered the counter to the Mono-Sapphire menace.  Still beating up on DS, Robots might now be a strong consideration as a counter to the Mono Ruby decks—3/4s and 3/3s active on turn 2 tend to be a problem for Ruby’s tiny troops.  The problem historically was the Blood decks, and taken as a whole it doesn’t seem like the matchup with players packing Extinctions has gotten any easier.

From here, I’m skipping down to the rogue decks that did well, just to get an idea of what they played against…

RS Tetzot

ArchetypeMatch WinsMatch LossesMatch Win %
WS Control10100.00%
Mono Blood2166.67%
BD Midrange40100.00%
BS Control10100.00%
RW Ramp10100.00%
Mono Ruby1150.00%
Coyotle Control10100.00%
DS Control10100.00%
RS Control
BR Aggro
DW Midrange

Pay less attention to the “Win %” numbers and more to the raw data when we get to sample sizes this small.  What jumps off the page is how dominant Tetzot was against the Blood decks; a whopping 7-1 against the big 3.  Granted, it could just be because nononsense has a better idea of how to crush some BD faces than the rest of us, but it certainly indicates that RS Tetzot has solutions to Blood out there ripe for the picking.

FiveShard Necrotic

ArchetypeMatch WinsMatch LossesMatch Win %
WS Control20100.00%
Mono Blood020.00%
BD Midrange
BS Control1150.00%
RW Ramp010.00%
Mono Ruby
Coyotle Control
DS Control
RS Control
BR Aggro
Other Rogue Decks2166.67%

Even less data to play with due to only having two pilots instead of one, the discouraging fact here is that the Necrotic here went 1-4 against other decks that had a >50% win rate.

RS Skarn

ArchetypeMatch WinsMatch LossesMatch Win %
WS Control10100.00%
Mono Blood10100.00%
BD Midrange010.00%
BS Control010.00%
RW Ramp10100.00%
Mono Ruby
Coyotle Control10100.00%
DS Control10100.00%
RS Control
BR Aggro
Other Rogue Decks10100.00%

1-2 versus “Blood” decks, but 3-2 against decks with a >50% win rate overall is encouraging enough that more investigation is likely warranted.  It is impossible to draw conclusions from the results of a single deck and player in a tournament like this, but we certainly can get indicators towards what might be an underdeveloped strategy.

Hopefully you’ve gotten something out of this data-heavy look at the Sapphire Cup results.  I expect the format to move swiftly once Daily Events start up, as there is enough incentive to win a Daily Event that most players are going to bring their “A” game and decklists to match.

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